I just got back from a family vacation in Mexico. Through the years, we've been to all the major resort cities, and Ixtapa and Puerto Vallarta have been our favorite to date. We last visited Cancun when we were first married, and during that stop we took a cab to Playa Del Carmen to catch a boat to Cozumel. This trip had us staying at a friends place in Playa, with a couple nights on the back end of the trip at a resort in Cancun.
When we last visited Playa, the year was 1989. I recall it being a lot like Ixtapa's port city, Zihuatenejo. Old Mexico.
We arrived in Playa at night and immediately noticed the remarkable changes in the town. It had a vibe on the main street, 5th Avenue, that reminded me of a street in the Latin Quarter in Paris; lots of people on vacation partying together at all the upscale and neighborhood restaurants, clubs ad bars. Most had outdoor tables and the people watching was as good as it gets.
While down there we stayed at a place called Porto Playa, a condo/hotel. It was built by a guy named Jack Perlman and even though the place was a few years old, it was like a brand new development that someone had plucked out of an upscale US beach town and transplanted in Playa Del Carmen. Jack is a former executive with the NY Yankees and he retired from the hustle and bustle of the states to develop property in Playa.
Like us, Jack stumbled on this town back in the late 80s. He saw the potential, so he rode out the real estate boom in Manhattan and he found some partners and they started buying property in Playa. He's built three or four projects and each one is magnificent. I have to believe he's also been one ofthe catalysts in helping urbanize Playa. While its always had white sand and beautiful warm turquoise water, what it lacked was nightlife, and a place Americans, Europeans and Canadians could invest in and feel comfortable. I know a couple people in our town who have invested in his projects in Playa, and they couldnt be happier.